WINTER HARBOR — The Schoodic Institute, the largest of the National Park Service’s 19 research centers, is all dressed up and now has plenty of places to go.
In recent months the renovated campus on the former site of a U.S. Navy base held its first Winter Festival and is planning its first marine science camp for middle school children.
The institute also has worked out an arrangement to have Maine Media Workshops & College teach photography classes on site this summer.
And, on the heftier scientific side, the 25th Annual North American Dendroecological Fieldweek will be held June 1-10 at the Winter Harbor facility.
And those are just the new programs planned for the 80-acre campus.
“We want to grow and strengthen what we can do here,” said Mark Berry, president and CEO of the institute.
He said the Winter Festival, which drew about 100 people overall to a variety of lectures and programs, demonstrated what can be done at the institute in the winter.
“For a first winter festival, we were pleased,” Berry said.
Craig Neff of The Naturalist’s Notebook wrote extensively about the Winter Festival in his blog, sharing photographs of survival workshops, quinzhee snow hut construction and outdoor art projects, among other activities.
“Shared experiences build unique camaraderie, and the pioneering group that attended the winter festival bonded with each other as well as with the place,” Neff said.
The Schoodic Institute came about after the Navy closed the base in 2003, leaving the town bereft of an important economic engine.
Residents also missed the novelty of an ever-changing cast of neighbors as military personnel moved in and then moved on.
A committee of year-round and summer residents formed to find something to fill the vacuum and the Schoodic Institute — a private group that partners with the National Park Service — was formed.
Acadia National Park Superintendent Sheridan Steele and Alan Goldstein, a summer resident on Grindstone Neck and board chairman of the institute, have been instrumental in helping to secure public funds to give the campus a major facelift.
A multimillion-dollar renovation has been completed, much of it financed with federal stimulus funds and national park fees. Nearly a dozen buildings were torn down as well.
Philanthropist Edith Dixon, a board member and summer resident on Grindstone, financed the lion’s share of the extensive renovation of the signature Rockefeller Building.
The imposing building serves as the welcome and information center and contains several suites for invited guests. Other lodging is available for people taking courses on the campus.
Now the facility is primed for use and the momentum provided by several new activities has come into play.
Alyne Cistone, the newly-hired Director of Advancement, is beginning to lay the groundwork for her endeavors as well.
“We want to tap into our potential and increase what we can do,” Cistone said. “I’m here to create a comprehensive advancement plan. Fundraising is one part of it.”
The OceansWide Marine Science Camp is a residential program for sixth- through ninth-graders July 5-11 and Aug. 2-9 or Aug. 9-15.
The cost is $1,750 per child and includes programs, meals and lodging. A certain number of scholarships are available for students at Peninsula School in Gouldsboro, Blue Hill and island communities.
The students will build and fly remotely operated submarines; study the intertidal zones, woods and trails of Acadia and travel into the Gulf of Maine to study seabirds, seals and whales in their natural environment, among many other activities.
For more information, contact Buzz Scott at (207) 620-6037 or by email at [email protected]
Maine Media Workshops & College, a well-established photography and film school in Rockport, will offer three photography workshops on site this summer.
There will be classes for young photographers; classes on photographing the night skies and night photography and outdoor photography.
The North American Dendroecology Fieldweek in June is open to students, amateurs and professionals. Dendro is a Latin word meaning “tree.”
The classes will include, among many others, dendrochronology, or tree ring dating and sclerochronology, which involves looking at the ear bones of cod from historical collections going back to the 18th century and archaeological middens going back about 3,000 years.
The Schoodic Institute helped launch the Citizen Science Association and its inaugural Citizen Science 2015 in San Jose, Calif., Feb. 11-12 with 650 participants from 23 countries.
The goal is to encourage non-scientists to engage in conservation and ecology projects.
The Schoodic Institute also is offering birding tours this summer as well as classes in field ornithology taught by the University of Maine.
“An individual’s backyard observation is at once connected to an entire network of observers, which can quickly reveal nature’s patterns,” said Seth Benz, director of the bird ecology program.
Berry and Cistone said new visitors to the campus are surprised at the natural beauty of the national park and the laboratories available for use.
Housing is modest, they say, but no one comes expecting five star accommodations. The real show is outside.
“They always say the drive is worth it,” Cistone said.